Teach your toddlers swimming using my tips, learn to swim games and confidence building exercises

Teaching your toddlers swimming can be easy to swim using my tips, using games and the same techniques that you would for a child say 5 years, learning to swim using toys etc can help to teach your child without the stress of explaining technical practices to him/her. Using my tips you will be well on your way and learning will be fun as well as the swimming.

For the purpose of this exercise I will refer to a toddler being under five. The only thing you may have to do is maybe Simplify some of the practices to suit the age of your child, just use your judgment. Nobody knows your child as well as you do.

Before you start remember not to be too strict and have fun. Never say something is wrong instead say that was good but it might be better if. Or say, that was good but this time try it doing this. This is more positive and will not destroy your child’s confidence.

Teaching your toddlers swimming has to be done using mainly learning games until he/she can learn more advanced practices. A first practice could be to see how close your child can put their face to the water. If your child is fearful of this then use some encouragement like putting a floating object close to the water and see if he/she can blow the object across the pool. This could be a ping pong ball, a small duck, foam animals your imagination is the limit.

Once your child can do this, progress to blowing bubbles in the water. You could say 'pretend you are a tractor, see how much noise you can make, see how hard you can blow bubbles'. Now you are a fish and so on. Use your knowledge of your own child to fire up your child’s imagination. Let them decide what they want to be. The most important thing is to remember is to make it fun and enjoyable and keep it as a game.

This could lead into a games of 'washing your face'. Throwing water over their own faces or use a toy watering can and sprinkle it over their head pretending to have a shower.

This can then lead on to putting their head in the water. See where this is going! a gradual progression to the desired result in this case blowing bubbles and putting the face in the water. This has also increased their water confidence and their confidence in you, As far as they are concerned your child is simply playing a game.

Animal Games can be a lot of fun and can help you child to gain much needed confidence as well as having fun in the water. As long as your child associates water with having fun you are on the right track. Now using your imagination and some of my suggestions we can play animal games.

Tell your child we are going to be animals. Start with a crocodile. What does a crocodile do? It snaps! Now see if you can snap across the pool like a crocodile. You will then open your hands like a big pair of scissors and snap. Lower your shoulders down to level of the water and then when you snap you make a big splash.

You could be a bunny rabbit or kangaroo, jumping up and down. Maybe when your child comes down after the jump if he/she is confident they could put their heads in the water then spring back up into the air. See how high you can jump.

Next you could try a crab, walking sideways and making pincers with your hand and snapping the water.

What about an elephant! use your arm as a big trunk holding your arm to your nose and make nice big splashes. Splash each other and try to make elephant noises.

Have a think and see what animal you want to be and the only limit is your imagination.


Firstly before we start your toddlers swimming, we will touch on push and glides. Push and glides are exactly what the name suggests. Your child will hold the side of the poolside and push off like a rocket. You will be there to catch them. Your child will have some floats as well. First a woggle under the arms a swim belt tied around the waist. as well as two hand floats one in each arm.(see photograph) Ready steady go! Your child will love this. Your child can be anything they want to be rockets, arrows, jack-in-a-box or a frog leaping. When I'm teaching my private lessons the kids always ask if they can play rockets. Toddlers swimming/ click here to find equipment and floats for your toddlers

Push and glide on the back is another practice you can try once your child has mastered the front. All you need to do is get him/her to hold the hand rail or side with knees bent and between the hands. All your child has to do is push off the side letting go of the poolside and spring back like a jack-in-a-box, keeping tummy up as well as head and shoulders back. Your child will then glide across the pool. This in it's self can be turned into a game. Let's see how far you can glide. Try to beat your last glide and so on.


All these practices are build ups to the ultimate goal of course of your toddlers swimming. This practice helps your child holding the correct body position. Being flat on the water trying not to drag the legs if possible is the desired position, don't worry if they are not perfect first time. Practice makes perfect.

Get your toddler to hold the wall or hand rail depending what there is to hold on to, in shoulder depth water. Ask him/her to then take their feet off the floor and kick their legs. You may need to support them until your child gets the hang of it. You could try this yourself to demonstrate to your child. This is always easier for your toddler to understand and it offers some encouragement to them.

What you are looking for in the early stages of your toddlers swimming is a simple leg kick that is powered from the hips not the knees. The knees should be as straight as possible. Kicking up and down fast and constant. Legs together toes touching. Say to your child we need nice straight legs like a soldier. Or you could pretend that you have tied broom sticks to your legs, now you can't bend your knees.

Once your child has got this it is time to try your toddlers swimming with floats. Put a swim belt on your child for extra support. A woggle under the arms a well as two hand floats on under each arm.

You may need to support your toddlers swimming to begin with until they get the hang of it. Eventually they will don't worry if they do not get it straight away all children learn at their own pace and should not be hurried into progressing too quickly.

If your toddler is having difficulty kicking his/her legs a good idea is to hold their legs and gently move them up and down emphasizing that the kick comes from the hips, nice straight legs and floppy ankles. Go from this to leg kicking with floats previously explained until your child feels comfortable with it.

Once your toddlers swimming on their front see if you can lie your child on his/her back and kick their legs. You are trying to get your child to lie on the water with tummy up head and shoulders back in the water nice and flat on the surface with legs kicking on the surface. A way of getting your child to lie flat is to say 'show me your belly' or my favorite is Fred the spider lives on the ceiling of the pool and he is watching you to see if your looking at the ceiling. Can you see Fred this is a great tip and always works.

You do not realy need the two hand floats for this they tend to get in the way.

The reason that you need to be flat on the water when swimming on the back is that if you are sinking in the middle you are causing drag in the water. This will make it harder and when your toddler progresses using the arms it will be worse and you do not want to start your toddlers swimming with any bad habits. So if toddler can kick legs on the back and the front, it time to move on to the arms. Demonstrate to your toddler using your own arms out of the water as a demonstration

show your child visually what to do And/or move your child's arms in the way in which you require. Tell your child to reach as far as you can then pull the water behind you as you are moving your child’s arms. Using a visual approach works better that words epically with younger children in my experience.

Stretch out your arms in front of you then a pull. I call it a posh doggie paddle. Tell your child to keep your fingers together we want spoons not forks. Explain to your child that if you do not keep your fingers together the water will escape through your fingers. Tell your child to imagine you are scooping ice cream 'what is your favorite flavor', 'well now don't let all the ice cream fall through your fingers'. So take away the two hand floats, now they should just have a woggle and swim belt around their waist. Your toddlers swimming with support if they need it by you holding the woggle at the ends which does offer a little support. Your toddlers swimming with their arms and legs, GREAT!

Tell your child 'don't forget your legs'. You can at this stage when your child can do this without you holding them, stand in front of your chid with your hand just beyond their reach and say to them, 'see if you can touch my hand'. This will encourage your toddlers swimming to reach as far as they can. Keep reinforcing by saying nice big stretch nice big pulls. You could put a ball or toy just beyond your child's reach and say see if you can touch the ball.

The reason for reaching out as far as they can is that the further they reach the further they will pull and the better the efficiency of the stroke will be because they are pushing the water behind them propelling them forward.


As your toddler gets used to these practices they will improve and get better at it. Try experimenting with different floats. Maybe try your toddlers swimming with two hand float on the front without the woggle. You could try push and glide on the back with a woggle and no swim belt. Try different ways which work with you and your toddler and enjoy yourselves!

Thank you.

Dale Dudley.

Do you have any great ideas about teaching your toddler/child to swim

Do you have any ideas about teaching your toddler to swim? maybe you have a different ideas about teaching your toddler water confidence. Do you have any crazy confidence building games you would like to share with others, maybe you could teach me a thing or two

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